The Telluride Miners are under pressure — and loving it.
The Telluride High School boys soccer team, playing in double overtime in a rivalry match at Ridgway Tuesday, scored a rebound goal to finish a thrilling 3-2 victory in San Juan/Southern Peaks League action.
With less than 5 minutes to play, the Miners worked a breakaway up the sideline, moving the ball into the center to senior Matheau Richard.
Returning to action after suffering a broken wrist earlier in the season, Richard shot from the top of the 18-yard box. The save bounced away, back into the field of play. Telluride sophomore Tyler Perpar collected the rebound, controlling the ball at his feet.
“He stopped the ball; he regrouped. And he shot far post for the goal,” said Telluride head coach Ramon Rodriguez, adding that Perpar missed a similar opportunity in the first half when the ball sailed over the net.
Not this time; not in double OT.
“It was funny. It seemed like everything stopped. Then, that was it,” Rodriguez said, who credited Ridgway with a hard-fought match.
Perpar scored Telluride’s first goal in the rivalry match. The Demons evened the score 1-1 on a penalty kick. Telluride’s Richard broke the tie with a second-half goal, giving the Miners a 2-1 lead.
“Then, we gave them (another) PK,” Rodriguez said.
Ridgway scored for the 2-2 tie, through regulation.
“It was a good battle. Both teams played hard,” Rodriguez said of a scoreless opening overtime.
“There were opportunities left and right, for both teams,” he said of the end-to-end action. “Tommy Wells (in goal) did what he does best.”
The senior Telluride goalie turned back everything in the overtime sessions, according to Rodriguez.
“Give credit to Ridgway. They are tough,” Rodriguez said. “We always know what the (Ridgway) game will be like.”
The Demons played much of the match a man down after a first-half red card. Telluride also incurred a red card in OT.
“Ridgway is good. They have a lot of ball skills. Their coach does it right,” Rodriguez said of Ridgway head coach Jon Kornbluh.
The Telluride coach said the Miners did a good job staying focused in the overtime sessions.
“Everyone was dead-beat tired,” he said, adding that the corps of Telluride underclassmen have stepped up this season to bolster the strong senior class.
He cited Declan Jodlowski, Tate Young, South Livermore and Perpar, among others, for their solid play for the Miners.
“It’s a collective (effort),” Rodriguez said. “They’re out there doing what they need to do.”
The victory boosted Telluride’s record to 8-3-1 overall and 1-1-0 in the San Juan/Southern Peaks League. Ridgway moved to 7-2-3 overall, 0-2-1 in conference.
“We get them again Wednesday at home,” the Telluride head coach said of the rematch with Ridgway on the turf at Judy Long Memorial Field in Telluride. “We know they’re going to come back strong against us.”
Rodriguez said a nonleague match against Class 3A Delta a week ago really helped the Miners prepare for Ridgway and the rest of the conference slate. The Panthers are the No. 6 3A team in the state with a 10-3-0 record.
The Miners jumped to a 1-0 lead against Delta, holding the advantage at halftime.
“That was the best half of soccer we’ve had since I’ve been at Telluride,” Rodriguez said. “Against a good opponent; under pressure.”
The Panthers eventually rallied for a 4-2 victory.
“But that took us right into Ridgway,” Rodriguez said.
The Wednesday rematch against the Demons in Telluride will likely draw another large crowd with fans from both schools turning out in force this week in Ridgway. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.
The Telluride boys will play a nonleague match at Pagosa Springs on Oct. 25. The Miners will close the season at rival Crested Butte on Oct. 26.
Crested Butte, the defending Class 2A state champion, is ranked No. 1 again this season with a 10-3-1 record (2-0-0 in league).
Dawson School of Lafayette is ranked No. 2 this week, with Fountain Valley of Colorado Springs No. 3. Campion Academy of Loveland is No. 4; Denver Christian is at No. 5. Telluride is just outside the top 5 this week.